Bicycle Touring Experiences from India

India

On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who travel to India (you can share your experiences here).



Air France is fantastic for travelling with bike

I travelled with my bike from Boston to India (with a stopover in Paris) in 2010. Not a cent extra - no problems. As it is bike touring in a foreign country can be expensive but Air France eases the pain by not giving any hassels. Think all airlines may be that friendly to bikes? - wrong. Travelled from Boston to Denver by United - paid $200 each way ($100 for the bike & $100 for excess weight). Not all airlines are bike friendly - Air France is. Guess what Air France, you have a customer for life.

Sanjay Jaiman, October 17, 2011

Impressions from bicycle touring

This website shows what it’s like to bicycle through these countries, thus helping the cyclist decide which country they want to take their next tour in.

Grace Johnson, June 29, 2010

Indian Airlines, Air India and Kolkatta International Airport

Flew Indian Airlines/Air India (the same company these days from Calcutta to Kathmandu return with bikes. No problem at either end. Join their frequent flyer program 'flying returns' before flying and you get an extra 10kg of luggage allowance!

Calcutta international airport has a 24 hour left luggage facility outside the terminal building (accross the parking lot near the taxi rank). As we were catching an early morning BA flight back to London we stayed at the international airport retiring rooms. Basic, but clean. To get a room (700Rs per person) go and see the airport manager (office on your right before you exit the international terminal). Rooms are on the first floor of the building and we had no problem storing our bikes there while we took a taxi into town to find something to eat.

David, November 02, 2008

S&S Coupling Cases -- beware of soft case

If you plan to check your bike on more than one flight a year, the soft case supplied by S&S is simply not durable enough. Your bike will protected adequately, but my case started to tear after the 3rd trip, and a large tear appeared after the 6th trip S&S were very good about this, and upgraded me to the 10 inch hard case for the cost difference between soft and hard.

Donald Greenberg, May 14, 2008

All about bike travel

Take a look at our adventure! Inorbitt is all about bike travel. Buses, trains, trucks, and bikes we used them all in this classic adventure. Police road blocks couldn’t stop an inorbitt adventure. Organized on the web as a free to join, open to everyone, cycle adventure.
Hong Kong to Goa for the millennium, via Tibet and the illegal route from Yunnan to Lhasa. See the pictures, read the adventures and find out how to do it yourself.

scarm, April 14, 2008

New Delhi Airport

Need to spend 6 hours in Delhi airport in January. What lounges are available? No organizations like Amer. Express seem to know.

Barbara Adams, December 19, 2006

Gulf Air, Delhi Taxis & Delhi-Manali & Shimla-Delhi HP Luxury AC bus

Just been cycle touring around the Lahual & Spiti Valley's in the Indian Himalayas and wanted to pass on some info.
At LHR used the Heathrow Hopper bus to get to the airport from our hotel with our bikes.
Flew Gulf Air LHR-DEL-LHR no problems with bikes or partially dismantled BOB trailer and panniers. If you belong to their frequent flyer club you get an extra 10kg free luggage allowance. Boxed from LHR to Delhi, but didn't have to box on the return from Delhi - front wheel strapped to frame with zip ties and used a fork brack to protect forks.
Took luxury AC bus from Delhi to Manali, again no problems taking dismantled bikes and BOB, but had to bribe the driver and his mate 400Rupees (£5). On return took the HP luxury AC bus from Shimla to Delhi. Again no problems taking bikes and BOB trailer and this time even paid the official rate of 350Rupees to the conductor - he wouldn't even accept a 'tip' of 100Rupees for the service!
From the airport and around town in Delhi we had no problems strapping our bikes to the roofs of local taxis using bungee cords.

David, December 10, 2006

Gulf Air, Jet Airways

I've just returned from cycling over the Himalayas from Leh to Manali with Exodus Travels and wanted to pass on my experiences.
I had no problems using Gulf Air to get my boxed bike to India. The key is to join their frequent flyer program one month before you fly as it entitles you to 10kg of extra luggage allowance (30kg total).

In India as we paid for our internal Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Leh in US dollars we also received a 30kg luggage allowance (if you pay in Indian Rupees its 20kg). They took our bikes with no questions asked:) Don't worry if you are over the 30kg allowance as Jet Airways only charges 54 Rupees (thats about £0.70) per extra Kg!!!

David, September 14, 2004

Loire Valley Tour

Found on: touring@phred.org

Hello cycle tourers,

I returned Saturday from a fully loaded cycle tour of the Loire Valley in France.

First of all let me thank all the great people who helped me with the queries I had about campsites, tools bike boxes etc.

Now for the details:

1. Airline: We flew Air India from Newark airport. In the run-up to the flight we received much contrasting information about charges for bikes ranging from $200+ to free. When we presented our bikes at the ehck in desk the clerk said, leave them over there and did not charge us anything. On the flip side at Paris CDG, the desk fuhrer said she was going to charge until we produced an e-mail from AirIndia stating that bikes would be treated as luggage. So hats off to Air India for cheap flights, fast flights (5.5 hours to Paris from Newark), free bike handling and indian food as in-flight catering. And the bonus for weirdo's like me - a Bollywood flick to enjoy during the flight!!!

3. Boxes etc: We cycle/train to Newark airport so require boxes at the airport. Continental has bike boxes but much badgering was required before they would sell us them and then they tried to charge us $40 each - we badgered more and got the price to $20 each. Due to the investment in corrugated cardboard we decided to retain the boxes in France and ship the bikes home in them again (more of this later)

4. Les Trains and Le SERNAM: We took our boxed bikes to Gare Montparnasse the day we arrived. It was a Sunday so we stored them in left luggage. Next day we returned to ship them on SERNAM to Angers for the beginning of our tour. We were told by the helpful desk guy that we should buy our TGV tickets first as our bikes would be cheaper to ship. We did and it was. We arrived in Angers 3 days later and our bikes were there. We reassembled and shipped boxes back to Paris via SERNAM - this was more expensive than shipping them out in the first place but we decided quality of life weighed heavier here. On our return to Paris we went once again to Montparnasse to get the boxesand they were not there. Later they were tracked down to the main SERNAM office in northern Paris. It was indicated that we would have to go get them. We declined and by 6:30 the evening before our departure they arrived!!!

5. Le Camping - picture perfect campsites on the banks of the Loire and on islands in the middle of the Loire. I particularly recommend Camping du Lac de Maine at Angers and the campsites in both Chinon and Saumur, both overlooked by chateaux. The only fly in this particular ointment was that most campsites closed on September 15th - bummer. We had to get a hotel for 3 nights at Blois as the camping had all closed and while the campsite season ends Sept 15th, the hotel season is still high at that time!! But hotels were reasonable enough - we spent 3 nights in Blois for the same amount as you'd get one night in a mid-range hotel in th U.S.!!!

6. The Tour - great routes, great scenery, perfect weather. It is very important to plan short mileage days every day because there is so much to see. This is not a tour for a record breaker or an expeditionist!!!

Now planning begins for next year - Germany or Bulgaria?

Any questions about this, please let me know.

Margaret, NJ


Margaret, September 21, 2003

Buses and Trains in India

Your bike may prefer to travel by bus, but you will almost certainly prefer the train if you have a choice. There is some admin to be done at the station, but we found it very interesting to have to meet so many railway staff, see their offices and fill in their forms. They were generally helpful and reliable people. You are likely to be double-checking everything at every step of the way, watching to see the bike is transferred if you have to change trains, and tipping the porters who wheel or lift the bikes on each occasion. I suspect that if the porters don't see you anxiously watching in the wings, they will still load your bike on the train just the same, but we enjoyed chatting with them and the inevitable baksheesh is part of the process. We always wanted to see exactly where our bikes were, especially if the train is a long one and we are at the other end of it. You probably don't need to worry about it as much as we did, but as I say, it was interesting to watch.

Security was very good on all our journeys. We found it impossible to take our bikes out of Madras station without the necessary forms, and also impossible to walk out with a bike from all but one heavily guarded gate. At small stations, your bike will be left around but may get VIP treatment, such as being wrapped in cloth sacking. Our bikes were very badly scratched on one occasion, though, and numbers were written on our bikes and bike helmets with indelible felt tip pens.

Bikes on buses is a much simpler business. You would only have a problem if your bus did not have a rack on top. We found that tipping the bus driver was unnecessary, but we always tipped the person who climbs up with the bike, and then went up ourselves to make sure it was properly tied down. 50 cents, perhaps shared if there are two people helping, would be a very good tip.

Be sure to have a bell on your bicycle- useful to you and a great pleasure for every Indian who touches your bike.

Stephen Lord, July 23, 2003

India by bike

Its not impossible to take a bike on the train in India, it just seems that way. After the few hours it takes you to buy your own ticket, go to the "Baggage" sign at the station. Then fill out the form which will be stamped and then you pay the fee. This will probably be more than what you pay for your own ticket. Then allow the 2,3,4 or more baggage wallahs to take your precious machine, (follow them wherever they go), and then watch as they attempt to sew some dirty bit of sacking round it, give them some rupees, naturally. Another wallah will then write the number on it (same as on your baggage ticket), and also the destination. Then you can leave it with the full knowledge that it will, eventually, be reunited with you at the other end. Don't be alarmed if it is not at the "Baggage" reclaim when you get off the train because a whole new set of baggage wallahs must now unload the train marking off on more requisition tickets that the bike has arrived before being finally delivered to the baggage reclaim office of your final destination. This final process may take a day but rupees strategically given to an important station wallah,(usually the one who is shouting at lesser wallahs), will hurry the process. All in all the Indian rail service is probably one of the most reliable in the world and providing you have filled out lots of paper work and HAVE YOUR BAGGAGE TICKET with you at all times for perusal, your pride and joy will find you no matter how far you've travelled and no matter how obscure the final station. The moral is don't panic, shout or lose your cool and everything will fall into place in its' own time.

Madjohn, March 15, 2003

Bike Hire in India (esp Mumbai)

I must say that although I didn't cycle tour india properly, you can find bikes to hire just about everywhere. I would bet 10,000 lire that there are many, many hire places in Mumbai. The bikes are very heavy iron clunkers, but I know of someone who toured using one of them - because kids drove him nuts pulling and pushing bits off his proper touring bike every time he stopped for a rest. So he sent the decent bike home, and got a clunker.

By the way, in the unlikely event you can't hire one, you can buy a reasonable bike there for about £50.

alex charkham, November 05, 2000

Bike transport on train in Thailand

I have used trains in Thailand.

Travelled about a thousand miles in total, and every journey I slept with my bike in the guards van. I wouldn't like to leave my bike unattended on a Thai train. The guards actually asked me to stay with the bike. The bonus to this was that when the guards ate their meals I got some of their food -excellent!!

One journey cost $8.00 and travelled a distance of 700 miles in 18 hours (it stopped about 100 times). I used a map to show the railway ticket office which stations I wanted to get off at. Oh, I needed help lifting my fully laden bike the three or four feet up to the guards van door, but you will find everyone is willing to help out.

I had a friend (Carl Helliwell) who rode a train out of Calcutta with his bike and 'lost' a pannier , and another friend (Dave Collinge) caught the train from Malaysia into Thailand and had his camera whipped by organised thieves at the border crosssing (where passengers must get off the train).

Ian Yates
Blackburn CTC

Ian Yates, October 03, 2000

Chicago, Illinois (Midway)

I would suggest taking Archer Avenue northeast to either 35th or 31st Street and head directly east to the lake. Alternately, you can head directly east down 55th street (Garfield Blvd). I've ridden this to the lake but always turn north once I get there. Once at the lake, you can take the bike trail south to 71st street where the trail ends (as per the Chicagoland Bicycle Map). Continue south on Route 41 to Route 12/20 and into Indiana. I have read on this list in the past that Route 12/20 is a ridable route into Indiana. Maybe someone else can confirm this. Sorry, can't help with the blues music.

Hope this gets you started,

Paul Miceli

Paul Miceli, August 30, 1999

Amtrak -- Indianapolis, Chicago

Monday December 1, 1997 I started out on a bike trip by train to Chicago Ill. I made reservations by telephone with a very helpful agent at Amtrak for a two day trip to Chicago with the bike. She sold me a round trip ticket for $37 and $30 for the bike. At Indianapolis I boarded in the morning at around 6AM and as the Cardinal coach car did not have a rack which the attendent was not happy about we placed it in the bottom of the car next to a center rail and I used my "U" lock to hold it upright. The train ride was nice and I was able to get an nice breakfast in the dining car. At Chicago the train people made sure I got off ok and as I wheeled the bike through Chicago Union Station I got some odd looks but the only problem was dragging the bike up the steps in the main hall as I never took time to find the handicap ramp. I then spent a wonderful day in Chicago pedaling some of the neatest routes and shopping at Marshall Fields.

I stayed the night at the Brompton Inn (found on the Internet!) and they were glad to let me put the bike in my room. As a side note I stopped by CycleSmitty and bought some antique bike parts from the owner who was very nice and hospitable. The next day I went north a ways on the lakefront bikepath and then went down to Navy Pier. The north bike path is nothing special when it is cold. The Navy Pier is quite something.

Close to dusk I pedaled over to Union Station and as I was pushing my bike in the Amatrak or local law enforcement man asked what I was doing with the bike which I replied that it had a ticket and I was headed back home to Indianapolis. He went on his way. The train was not due to leave untill 7 but I was cold and it was getting dark out. I am glad I got there early as I made friends with the gate attendant and as a result he made sure I got on the train early. The train back to Indianapolis did not have any rack, rail or holding device for the bike again much to the conductors dismay.

He said it would be OK to just lay the bike down on the floor in the lower handicap seating area where there was a place for it. I got plenty of sleep on the way back and the Amtrak people really worked at keeping it quiet after hours so people could sleep. All in all the Amtrak people realllllllllly were nice to me and made a real effort to work with the situation.

Now the bike. I use an old Schwinn Racer for commuting an so I took it to Chicago. It has been converted to a Shinamo 7 speed internal hub. I have the smaller front Wald basket and a rear rack. This bike was perfect for the planned adventure. I wish I had taken several more bungie cords and a better back pack. Also I removed my winky light from the rear fender mostly so it wouldnt get broken by the people moving around my bike in the train station! I just might do this whole thing again as it was pretty neat! More people should try the Amtrak bike-rail program. My only wish is that there were more trains!

Ronald P. Cooper, December 02, 1997

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal

All trains, buses and boats in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal take bikes. No need to pack them. For buses and boats just turn up: cycles are normal luggage. For trains turn up an hour or two before departure, go to the Foreign Tourist office of big stations, and at the luggage office of small stations, and ask how to book. Fees are negligable.

Cyclists in south Asia must take special care over dehydration and over theft: I'll happily send you a note if asked.

Ben Haines, London

Ben Haines, October 21, 1997

Delhi, India

Delhi airport : both International and Domestic airport have a Left Luggage Facility, open 24 hours, 20 Rp/piece/day, bicycles accepted. Both are conveniently apart (200 m) of the Departure/Arrival halls, as a provision against terrorists. No X-ray detection.

Ugo De Riu, March 30, 1997

Bike Rental -- India & Nepal

Nepal: Kathmandu, Patan, Bhagdaon, Pokhara.

Special cases:
Bombay (now renamed Mumbai): despite an extensive search no renting business was found at all. Any suggestion is appreciated.

Calcutta: it seems that there is only one place, and it has a very limited stock available (5-6 pieces) but if the demand increases ...
Ask of Mr. A. Kadir, 1, Marquis street (Chowringhee area, just south of Sudder str.). Additional help can be obtained from Blue Sky Restaurant, at the corner of Sudder str. with Chowringhee Lane.

Ugo De Riu, March 30, 1997

Indianapolis, Indiana

Access: Road/tricky
Indianapolis has access via a highway which is impossible and secondary roads which do not have signage and are difficult to follow to get to the terminal. The roads around the terminal are very dangerous.

dbbollin, April 13, 1994

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